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African wood mask, 'Abstract Kifwebe' (Ghana)


Reserved for the fetish priest of Central Congo's Songye people, the Kifwebe mask is worn upon the installation and death of a king. Kifwebe masks were also made for the Bwadi ya Kifwebe association, a policing society that neutralized disruptive behavior, though there is great variety and symbolism within Kifwebe masks. This mask shows a highly abstract treatment evoking a singular tension of form. The smooth eyes seem to direct attention inwards, says Kobina Asmah of his Kifwebe version. He carves the sese wood mask by hand, decorating it with embossed aluminum and painted details before setting it on an iron display stand.

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